Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Monday, December 12, 2011

On the Rim

John Levett tracks the “inherent restlessness” of plants, people, structures, de-structures—and memory—along the Thames’ tributaries.


Northern Approach

Photo: John Levett

By John Levett

Back in the ‘80s Paul Burwell [RIP], Anne Bean and Richard Wilson formed the Bow Gamelan Ensemble, described once as “a multi-media urban-junk-and-pyrotechnics percussion trio” and famously performing ‘Concrete Barges’ at Rainham Marshes on the Thames Estuary and coming close to self-drowning. I read about Paul Burwell’s death in an edition of The Wire sometime last year. He’d moved up to Hull (something about estuaries) and had fallen into a routine of alcohol consumption that contributed to his early death.

It’s curious how one often uses names of groups, products, organizations as a simple matter of naming without considering their origin. It was only last week that I clocked the London 2012 trademark and noticed that it actually pictured the numerals ‘2012’ having previously taken it as a random splash of flashes that was a signifier for something I wasn’t going to research. I’m currently going through the Beatles archive for long defunct cultural references and turns of speech. Thus it came as a slap on the forehead when I realised one crisp morning last January that Bow Gamelan referred to Bow in London’s East End.

The occasion was a detour organised for one of the urbanist groups that I convene. We met at Three Mills not far from Bromley-by-Bow tube station, and it was during the introduction that Burwell, Gamelan and Bow came together. Our group had done some work last year in the East End around Shadwell and the liminal environments close by the Isle of Dogs and we were back there to explore the cuts through to the Thames estuary.

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Posted by Julie on 12/12 at 03:20 PM
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